Friends with Benefits

One aspect of having tools that others do not is eventually being asked to use them.  This is similar to the pickup truck phenomenon.  If you own a truck there never seems to be a shortage of stuff that needs hauling.

To me, this is not a burden.  I don’t mind sharing what little knowledge I have and the somewhat decent tool selection I currently possess.  In fact, I have strongly encouraged three friends with various levels of woodworking experience (ranging from one pocket hole project to building some furniture with 2×4’s) to dream up something and come build it.  We all win as they get a project to take home and I get to learn something new or reinforce what I already know.

The first project is a dining table centerpiece that my friend’s wife found on Pinterest.

Normally I’d have a picture here.  The problem is I am not a Pinterest user and unclear on the rules for posting their pictures on blogs.  I am also too lazy to further invest any time into the issue.  Use your imagination.

The picture showed a rectangle box made with butt joints.  When my friend showed me a picture my first thought was, “Sure, we can over complicate that easily enough.”

I showed him a few pictures of different joints and he settled on a mitered box with contrasting splines.  He then picked up a nice piece of walnut was from Bell Forest.


He also grabbed a plank of Douglas fir to run a few test boxes.  Mitered boxes are new ground for me so testing is a must.


Here’s the first box with an 1/8″ plywood bottom.  This came out a lot better than either of us expected.  Not exactly fine furniture but maybe we’re just easily impressed.

Next are the splines.  We made the below jig for cutting the splines based off a FWW article by Gary Rogowski.


I had some pine scraps from previous cabinet builds hanging out so we used those.  After we finished I found some 3/4″ MDF which would have been a preferable material.  This jig wasn’t our best work so we’ll probably rebuilt it.

There was a slight wobble in the long pieces but forged ahead.  The jig works by running against the table saw rip fence and it worked well.  My friend marked out a pencil line around the entire box to layout where the splines would be cut.  He eyeballed the cuts so they were slightly off from each other.  Stop blocks probably would have been a good idea.  We thought of that after he finished.  Noted.

From the remaining fir we cut out another box.  I do not have any pictures as it is not glued up yet.  The joints are good but not exactly as perfect as I’d like.  We’ll probably make another box or two.


Another friend of mine needed to build two beds and a stable to house a couple of American Girl dolls his daughters were getting for Christmas.  Don’t worry, the stable is for horses.  I didn’t really do much except throw in some advice on hand planing (his first time) and help in laying out parts.  I think they turned out nice and all three pieces were a hit with the girls.


He’s going to inlay the doll’s names on each bed and attach a gilded leaves and vine motif in the upcoming weeks.  That’s probably a lie.


After he took the picture of the stable, doors were added to prevent the roaming of children toys.  No word back if the doors kept the toys in place.

These were great fun and will probably  lead to other builds.  Just today my friend who built the doll furniture said his wife wanted a jewelry box.  Sounds fun.

Until next time, have a good one.

Eat a peach,



3 thoughts on “Friends with Benefits

  1. Just yesterday a friend asked me whether I’d be willing to build a bookcase and how much it would cost. I said I wouldn’t do it. Can’t take people’s money for woodworking projects at this stage. Right now every error I make is a moment when I learn something. Heck, the errors are the most important part of my woodworking.

    The thing is, my mistakes happen on my own investments in lumber and time. If I were taking money for something, those mistakes wouldn’t be where I learned something new: they’d be where I messed up their piece, ruined their piece of lumber, and then charged them for the privilege.

    So we got to talking, and I think we’re going to build the bookcase together. That works for me.


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